DST 2.0 Jon Orech

The influx of Digital Storytelling into education begs the question, “What’s next?” Educators and students alike have become increasingly proficient in their ability to identify and manipulate various tools in the crafting of Digital Stories. However, to achieve richer stories with deeper meaning, story crafters must explore the “why” of these techniques to create a second, and sometimes third layer of meaning in the complex interplay of images and words.
Movement (panning and zooming): Slow zoom out gives an object a sense of place or setting. Slow zoom in gently focuses the viewer and draws attention to a particular object or person. Occasionally, a quick zoom in can add a dramatic effect that abruptly jerks the audience to pay attention to something on the screen. A pan creates an illusion of a storyboard, revealing information as it coincides with the narration. One note: most times, a left-to-right pan is preferred. Use right to left only to create an “uncomfortable” effect for the viewer.
Transitions: In most cases, only three different transitions are desirable. I tell students to think of transitions as punctuation marks. A cut (or no transition) is like no punctuation, or at most, a comma. A dissolve (or a cross fade) is like a period. A fade to black is closest to an “enter” or a new paragraph, suggesting a change in thought or time passing--the longer the black, the longer the ellipsis.
Text as art Aside from titles and credits, text on the screen (used judiciously) can greatly enhance a production. Text can be used as the narrative line itself giving a “storybook quality.” Occasionally, text can be used as a caption to coincide with either narration or song lyrics. A more creative approach might use printed words as a “silent” conversation with the voice over, or even a poignant quotation on a blank screen to set the tone or “seal the deal” at the end can be quite dramatic.
“Performing” the story: One of the gifts of DST is the ability to make words jump of the page and dance, sing, moan or cry through the use of voice. When “rehearsing,” the story should be “performed” and not “read.” Awareness of pacing, inflection, volume, tone, and mood must coincide with, or consciously juxtapose from the image on screen. A narrator may even need to take on two or more different “voices” within the story.

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